Your Modifier is Dangling

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Oct 21, 2007.

  1. Principessa

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    Correct grammar is often a hot topic around here. So I thought it was appropriate.
    Your Modifier Is Dangling
    October 21, 2007
    The Age of Dissonance


    By
    BOB MORRIS


    Not long ago, an elderly friend and grammar stickler stopped me midsentence. I had just said, “They gave it to him and I,” when it should have been “him and me.”
    “You have to keep in mind the object of the preposition,” she gently told me.
    I felt ashamed, but also grateful to be corrected.

    “And now you won’t embarrass yourself in front of someone else,” she said.
    She isn’t the only one wagging a finger or a pencil these days. Bring up the topic of grammar at any party and you’re likely to be hit with a tirade.

    But then, this is a time when e-mail messages, hip-hop slang, and a “decider” president who said that “childrens do learn” are chipping away at good grammar. Poor usage, of course, goes back at least to Shakespeare, who invented plenty of his own rules. In “Pygmalion,” George Bernard Shaw wrote that the English have no respect for their language, and spell it abominably. And Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s character Mrs. Malaprop, with her silly misuses, could hold her own on today’s White House cabinet, or anyplace where being folksy sells better than being impeccable.

    “Unfortunately, using poor grammar comes off as less pretentious,” said Sharon Nichols, a 22-year-old law student. “Everything is just so calculated in politics.”

    Ms. Nichols is one of many young people throwing off her generation’s reputation for slovenly language, and taking up the gauntlet for good grammar. Last year, after seeing a sign on a restaurant window that said “Applications Excepted,” she started a grammar vigilante group on Facebook, the social networking site, and called it “I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar.” Its 200,000 members have gleefully and righteously sent in 5,000 photographs documenting grammatical errors.
    Facebook offers several grammar-crusading groups in high finger-wagging mode, including Citizens Against Poor Grammar and Grammar Freaks United. Meanwhile, Martha Brockenbrough, a Seattle writer, has started the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, for waging her own battles. She wrote a scolding letter to a shampoo company that used the word “structurizes.” She has also written to President Bush.

    “But I haven’t heard back from him,” she said.

    Engaged as she is in flagging misuses, however, she doesn’t correct people face to face. Lynne Agress, founder of Business Writing at Its Best, a 25-year-old Maryland-based company, is another stickler who won’t correct people in social situations.

    “You never want to make anyone uncomfortable,” she said.
    Of course not. And you probably don’t want to correct your boss, either.
    On the other hand, what kind of world would we have if everyone let grammar continue its drunken, downhill slide? Communication would become even more difficult than it already is. Civilization might even be hastened to its ultimate collapse.

    So, when is it O.K. to correct grammar? When you’re a teacher, of course, or when you’re coaching a nonnative speaker who has asked for help. But if you can’t control the impulse to help a friend by correcting a mistake, what’s the best way to do so?

    It seems there are two options.

    You can ask, “Oh, is that the way you pronounce that word?” Then go on to say that you always pronounced it differently, and demonstrate how you do so.

    A more subtle approach: Don’t point out the mistake. Instead, repeat what was just said, but with correct usage this time, and in your own sentence. Then keep talking. Ms. Agress, the business-writing expert, uses this technique.

    “So if someone tells me that everyone has their issues,” she said, “I reply, ‘Yes, everyone has his issues, but that doesn’t mean we have to worry about them.’” And unless we really care, we don’t have to correct them, either.

     
  2. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    Grammer and I do not get along. Its been an age old battle with me. I've given up hope of ever understanding it.
     
  3. Mem

    Mem
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    Is my Participle showing? :redface:
     
  4. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    My grammar died in 1977.
     
  5. Not_Punny

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    Multiple silly-bulls ran over MY gramama... boohoo.
     
  6. SpeedoGuy

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    My modifier dangles longer than yours.
     
  7. camper joe

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    I have hard enough time making sure I spell correctly, now I must worry about grammar also. :rolleyes:

    or

    I have hard enough time with spelling, and now I also must worry with grammar. :thinking:

    rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, oh Lord. :dunce:
     
  8. EagleCowboy

    EagleCowboy Well-Known Member

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    Is that your participle dangling? Or are you just happy to see me? :biggrin1:
     
  9. dong20

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    Never mind the grammar, feel the spelling. Sorry, I couldn't help myself.:tongue:
     
  10. D_Kay_Sarah_Sarah

    D_Kay_Sarah_Sarah Account Disabled

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    If its comprehensible then its good enough for me.


    Gramma is 4 ol' peeps
     
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